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Worrisome nut case keeps airlines vexed and perplexed

August 22, 2014 Aviation, Headline News 5 Comments Email Email

egtmedia59Airlines have enough to worry about, from fuel costs and wafer-thin yields to passengers who go crazy in flight and try to open doors.

A persistent recent problem, however, is of a totally different character. It has to do with nuts – not the sort who try to wrench open doors but the type served as snacks with in-flight drinks.

Some people are extremely allergic to nuts. Other people are allergic to shellfish, nylon, pollen – all sorts of things.

Nut allergies, however, can be deadly serious. In the latest manifestation, the family of a four-year-old girl who suffered an allergic reaction aboard a transatlantic flight claims United Airlines initially refused to carry them back home because it is not “a nut-free airline”.Mixed nuts

The family, from Ireland, was flying to New Jersey when their four-year-old daughter went into anaphylactic shock after eating nuts served on the United Airlines flight, Britain’s Daily Mail has reported. The girl was given a shot of adrenaline by a fellow passenger who, in a remarkable stroke of luck, happened to be carrying one because he was an allergy specialist from Texas.

The mother said her daughter had never suffered an allergic reaction before, but after eating a cashew nut on the plane, suffered an extreme reaction, breaking out in hives, swelling up and struggling to breathe, the mother told the Irish Independent. The plane turned back and made an emergency landing in Dublin.

On the return flight, when the family asked staff not to serve any nuts (they were travelling first class, apparently) United allegedly told them it didn’t advertise itself as a “nut-free airline”.

Cabin crew asked the couple and their young daughter to get off the plane while they considered. The couple and their daughter returned to Dublin the following day after United Airlines agreed not to serve any nuts on that flight.

The allegation comes just days after another four-year-old, Fae Platten, stopped breathing and passed out on a Ryanair flight after a Zimbabwean passenger opened a packet of mixed nuts he brought onto the plane.

The man, sitting four rows away from Fae, apparently chomped the nuts despite three warnings that there was a child on board with a severe nut allergy. He reportedly ate the nuts after telling someone who tried to stop him that “he would eat them if he wanted to”. Ryanair has since banned him from flying with it for two years, on grounds of selfishness.

Fae was given an injection with her adrenaline pen and rushed to hospital after the plane landed, where she recovered.

Airlines now find themselves in a predicament. Can passengers not eat nuts aboard, for fear that someone may have an allergy? Allergies (not just to nuts) are reported to be on the increase around the world. Some 1.4% of all children in the US are allergic to peanuts. In the most severe cases, inhaling a tiny portion of nut dust can send a child into anaphylactic shock, which can prove fatal unless a dose of adrenaline is given.

United and American are reported to be among airlines which no longer serve packets of peanuts. The US Department of Transportation tried to ban nuts from planes in 2010, but according to The New York Times, “laws prohibit the agency from doing so without a peer-reviewed scientific study showing severe allergic reaction to small airborne peanut particles”.

The days of nuts on planes (the sort that come in packets) may be numbered. Last year, the New Jersey Senate passed Resolution 124 urging airlines to restrict nuts to certain zones.

The joy of munching through a packet of nuts with your gin and tonic while airborne seems set to go the way of that other great pleasure, the in-flight after-dinner cigar.

Written by Peter Needham

Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. stingforever says:

    …i don’t get it.. why do others have to suffer from someone else’s condition… why can’t they just provide the passenger with allergy with a special mask… or a medication when flying to halt allergic reaction.. i mean we all have to work around it…with the majority’s benifit in mind of course..

  2. intheknow says:

    This article is proof that something does need to be done. For the comment from Stingforever, did you not read about the gentleman that was banned from Ryanair for being selfish? Why would you ever want to put someones else s life in danger for the sake of a small snack?? That is truly being selfish! Anyone with a known allergy will have an epi pen on them, however this is still not 100% guarantee. With someone that has never had a reaction, this could certainly prove deadly. Yes, there are many other allergies out there, however Nuts are one of the most common and most severe.
    I am sure the airlines can alter their “small” snacks on board, and most caring adults would be more than willing to let go of their beloved peanuts for the sake of another life. This is really something that can be controlled quite easily. Ask any “nut free” school!

  3. do more research says:

    My question is? Why do we have so many children today allergic to nuts. Could it be because of the junk food they have been eating, with all the preservatives in it as well as foods purchased at the grocery store with all the preservatives in it. Could it be this might be causing a breakdown in our immune systems causing all of the different allergies that have been popping up and the illnesses that people have be getting. I am a senior and have never seen the likes of what is happening today. Time to start focusing on how our food is prepared, don’t you think.

  4. Murph says:

    Totally agree with intheknow. Just… for crying out loud, if you find yourself thinking “hm peanuts? or someones life?” then you need to go home and start thinking about where your priorities lie.

  5. disgusted says:

    Why do others have to suffer from someone else’s condition? Really stingforever? Not having nuts on a flight is suffering? Really? You selfish, ignorant git! Only when you have someone in your family with a food allergy will you understand.

    Airlines and passengers alike should also recognize that banning peanuts only may not be the answer as there are a lot of other nuts children and adults can be severely allergic to, like cashewnuts,

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